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Nr. 120 - September 2012


SEKEM‘s Journal for Culture, Economy, Society and Ecology in Egypt

Editorial Dear Readers, There‘s a lot going on in the area of education at SEKEM this month. Not only is the opening of the Heliopolis University drawing near. The SEKEM School has also recently been selected a model school. As part of the EUfunded EduCamp project, schools are being equipped with modern teaching materials, and teachers trained in modern instructional methods. Read more about this in our opening article. Thanks to the energetic support of SEKEM’s Swiss support association, there is now a large piece of cargo headed for the port of Alexandria, destined for the initiative’s Vocational Training Centre. A carpenter has left the Swiss SEKEM friends a complete but unneeded carpentry workshop at an inexpensive price. Through the great personal efforts of the Swiss association’s members, about whom we tell you more in this month’s “Impressions from SEKEM”, the equipment could recently be packed into a large container which was then sent on its way to Egypt. We will tell and show you more about the amazing journey of this fantastic addition to SEKEM’s educational resources in the coming issue.

Your Team of Editors Find SEKEM also on the Internet at:

SEKEM School


Vocational Training

Institution Recognized as “Model School”

How They Support the University

Carpentry Workshop En Route to SEKEM

SEKEM School Recognised­As EduCamp-Model Institution Since 2010, the Heliopolis University and the RCE, which is administered by the SEKEM Development Foundation, have been involved in the EduCamp project. Within the project, the SEKEM School has now been declared a “Model School”.

A teacher at the SEKEM School participates in the EduCamp project with his children.


he idea behind the EduCamp project, in which the SEKEM Foundation for Development is participating and which is co-funded by the European Commission, is about improving educational quality at Egyptian state schools specifically at grades five to nine. At many public schools in the country, up to 60 pupils are still huddled together in a single classroom. The quality of care

that can be provided to them naturally leaves much to be desired, and teaching methods are frequently limited to frontal classroom instruction and heavy use of the textbook. Additional materials or alternative instructional approaches are hardly ever used. To improve this situation, SEKEM has decided to contribute to the EduCamp project. Based on the national curriculum, a team of international experts SEKEM Insight | September 2012 | Page 1


Demeter: EU Needs to Strengthen Agriculture, Safeguard Common Goods

Children realise the importance of the ecological balance of food transports through play.

has developed a collection of 270 hands-on classroom activities and guidelines for their application in the whole of the project. The activities focus on the themes of water, energy, agriculture, and biodiversity. SEKEM through the Heliopolis University has contributed about 40 activities directly related to agriculture. The activities consist of practical experiments, discussions, field trips, and games that can be employed in the course of teaching without much effort or material cost, and thus quickly and easily enrich teaching practice in an active and engaging fashion. Spreading High-Quality Teaching Material To spread the new teaching material as far and wide as possible, seven Egyptian universities are also taking part in the creation of so-called teacher training centres. Here, teachers will be trained to meaningfully integrate the educational materials developed in the project and elsewhere into their individual curricula. One centre will be installed at the Heliopolis University. Its employees, who will later be working at the centres, will first be trained in their own training programme. The most recent training session on agriculture was carried out from 2 to 7 September in Portugal. Three teachers from the SEKEM School and one from

the Heliopolis University participated in the event. In preparation for the training, 23 students of grades 5 and 6 have recently taken part in the activity “East? West? Home is best!”. This activity is a great example of how, through play, complex information like the benefits of preferring domestic products over imported ones, can be conveyed to children. Firstly, all the individual stations a product - in our case, an apple - travels on its way from the producer to the consumer, are listed. The apple then literally “travels” through the hands of children that have been painted with watercolours before, turning the apple more and more “colourful” on his journey. “Through such activities, we can show to the pupils the importance of the ecological balance of food transports. They understand why imported products are more expensive. Understandably, no one eventually wants the ‘dirty’ apple”, explains Bianca Fliss, who coordinates the project for SEKEM, with a laugh. In preparation for the next session, more activities will be tested in practice. The feedback will then be integrated into the next training’s plan.

Farmers are designers and beneficiaries of natural ecosystems“, says Stephan Illi, member of Demeter’s Board. „As such, they bear special responsibilities. They also have to shoulder great costs, for instance, if they take care of issues of environmental conservation or practice social farming.“ When a farmer reduces the intensity of the agriculture he or she practices, but in turn improves care for biodiversity or introduces children to the benefits of healthy eating, he will hardly be rewarded for this change in course. On the contrary: „Its usually the society or even future generations who pay for the consequences of industrialised agriculture, e.g. through extra biodiversity protection. This gives industry-scale farms an unfair competitive advantage. In order to change this, an alliance of 32 German associations - including Demeter - demands a reversal of the EU‘s current agricultural policy: it has to be „socially acceptable“, the title of a recently published booklet says, that comments in detail on the proposals by the EU Commission for agrarian reform set to be implemented in 2014. The group not only demands to only spend „public money on public services“, e.g. by expanding direct payments to only „green“ measures. They also demand better compatibility of EU policies with agricultural practice in the developing world. Ultimately, organic farming should also be supported better, says Illi, for agriculture as such must become „more environmentally friendly, fairer, and more friendly to the development of bees, if it is supposed to continue to ensure our food supply and preserve our environmental integrity. Here, organic farmers such as ours do exemplary work.”

Bianca Fliss


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Renee Herrnkind, Demeter


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SEKEM Insight | September 2012 | Page 2


Demeter Conference on Marketing Aims to Reconsider Practice

SEKEM‘s ISIS First in Egypt to Launch Product Tracing Tool


he 3rd Demeter Marketing Conference will soon focus on the issue „What will carry Demeter into the future“ by bringing together inspiring speakers, exciting discussions, and opportunities to exchange ideas and to network. The event takes place on 24 and 25 October in Darmstadt (Germany). Applications have to be made through Demeter. A majority of the products produced by SEKEM are Demeter-certified. After the opening by the author Sebas­ tian Gronbach, the first discussion will focus on the topic of generational change in the organic industry. The entrepreneur Florian Junge (Jungebad), the Demeter farmer Thomas Schmid of Heggelbachhof, biography consultant Walter Seyffer and organic pioneer Hilde Fauland Weckmann (Berlin), Lukas Nossol of wholesaler dennree, and Pascal Stolecki of Naturkost Schwarz, a Demeter Active Partner, will allow insights into processes of change. On Thursday, keynote lectures and discussions on „Demeter 2.0“ will discuss the future of communication with Christoph Harrach (KarmaKonsum), Jens Heis­ ter­ kamp (info3 and wir), Franz Berno Breitruck (attempto GmbH and A talk with Theo Gutberlet (tegut ... Gutberlet Stiftung & Co.), Achim Wagner and Ronald Harter (Biomammut GmbH), Sascha Dama Shun (Bodan GmbH), Martin Hollerbach (Dottenfelderhof), Klaus Fickert (Edeka Southwest GmbH) will concentrate on topics related to trade. Futurist Anja Kirig will then address the audience on the question „How will you eat in the future?“. She will also talk about the future of customer groups, their perspectives on life, and their purchasing behaviour. Renée Herrnkind


More information: http:// demeter-marketingtagung-mit-zukunftsimpulsenspannenden-themen-und-hochkarätigen-referenten


s the first company in Egypt, SEKEM’s ISIS has just made available a new electronic service on its Internet site that allows customers to get to know the products they buy in much greater detail than before. Through the service, they can learn about the farms from which the raw materials come, the production cycle and the production date, its nutrient contents, and plenty of other details on the final processed product. The new tool aims to establish comprehensive product transparency. Comprehensive Product Transparency “We wanted to create a much more transparent product and give customers the opportunity to learn much more about the articles they purchase and their production process without much effort,” says Thomas Abouleish, head of the new media, e-marketing and customer service at ISIS. To make this service as simple as possible for the customer, any client can either directly access the tool through a regular web browser on the website, or scan a code on an eligible product using his mobile phone. On the ISIS website, the client can then obtain data on the product by entering its lot number into a form provided. “We asked ourselves what we would like to know about the food we purchase before and quickly arrived at our vision of complete transparency

throughout the entire production process of an article. Furthermore, it was very important to us that this service does not only improve transparency and availability of factual data, but also that the service is easy to use for the end customer while still eventually providing a wealth of data on the 200 products manufactured by ISIS, the more than 1.500 ingredients the company uses in producing them, and the over 600 farms supply it with the required raw materials!”, adds Abouleish. “Achieving this would not have been possible without a strong team, which implemented the idea with practical knowledge and experience.” Development of the New Tool by SEKEM Employees The entire development was carried out by a team of SEKEM and ISIS employees. The tool will now be continuously improved upon in order to make it even easier to use and provide more information. Firstly, dairy and date products were entered into the database. Within a few months, nearly all of the 200 ISIS products will follow. „We are far from finished with what we have achieved so far. But we are happy that we took this step and can now claim to be the first on the Egypt market”, Abouleish points out. Thomas Abouleish


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SEKEM Insight | September 2012 | Page 3


How Private SEKEM Associations Support the University Project In May 2012 at the annual SEKEM Day, the European SEKEM support associations had agreed that they would financially support the Heliopolis University. Hermann Becke (Austria) outlines the plan.

Core Programme. The German association will repay the loan from the current and future donations it receives. Simultaneously, the group will collect credit guarantees of up to 3.000 euro each in order to secure this loan. The guarantees could be claimed by the GLS Bank only in case the German SEKEM friends become insolvent. Fundraising Campaign

The Heliopolis University strives to draw to Cairo students from all cultural regions of the world.


his coming October, the Heliopolis University will commence its service on the existing premises of the established Heliopolis Academy for Sustainability and the SEKEM headquarters. The new institution will initially offer courses to about 200 students. Focus on the „Core Programme“ The programme for fundamental studies (“Core Programme”) will form the heart of all specialised degree programs and will thus take up a concept of study already popular at medieval European universities: the idea to emphasize individual human development through a broad, cross-sectional study programme that caters to human development needs beyond the goals of any specialised thematic curriculum. The cost of developing and implementing such a programme at the

Heliopolis University will total at around 670,000 euros. SEKEM’s European support associations intend to contribute financially to the greatest possible extent. A Partnership with the GLS Bank SEKEM and its associations are supported in their efforts by the German GLS Bank, the first sustainable bank in the country. The discussions with the financial institution have already progressed to an extent that an application for funding can be made in two steps. The German SEKEM friends have already made the first of the two: they took out a loan of 300.000 euro from the GLS Bank to be earmarked by the Heliopolis University for immediate use in the development of the You can visit SEKEM yourself:

The second step then is a fundraising campaign that is going to be started in autumn with participation by all European SEKEM support associations. This campaign will address individuals enthusiastic about SEKEM’s development projects. They should be willing to donate, over five years, a small monthly sum of, for example, 30 euros up to a total of 1.800 euro (= 60 x 30). If such a commitment can be guaranteed by the associations, the GLS Bank will then make these 1.800 euro available immediately to SEKEM. The German SEKEM friends have agreed to cover the interest rate of 2.9%. For the members of the Austrian Association, no additional bureaucracy is involved. The association will arrange for the transfer of all funds with both their German friends and the GLS Bank. This will also ensure that all Austrian donations are tax deductible. Plus, the Austrian association has also resolved to raise 50.000 to 100.000 euro itself. It therefore asks the readers of SEKEM Insight and all supporters of SEKEM to consider participation in the fundraiser and to promote the campaign among their own friends and colleagues. Hermann Becke Hermann Becke is a member of SEKEM friends of Austria supporting SEKEM’s social projects.

SEKEM Insight | September 2012 | Page 4


Impressions from SEKEM


ust these days the Swiss SEKEM support association has sent a particularly heavy cargo on its way to Egypt: a complete carpentry workshop that a well-meaning carpenter has given to the SEKEM friends far below its actual monetary value. SEKEM’s Vocational Training Centre will be the main beneficiary of the equipment. With this valuable extension to its material educational resources, the newly equipped workshop will allow to significantly improve the quality of vocational training. It will also improve the production capacity of the training workshop. In this context, the Swiss association is in negotiations with the Cairo office of the Swiss SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) with a view to co-funding even further development. A technician shall be hired to provide better training of apprentices supervisors. The Swiss patrons are still looking for donors to support this measure. They have already contributed some of their own funds and aim to raise another 8.000 francs.

SEKEM Insight | September 2012 | Page 5

News in Brief

SEKEM Joins Demeter at BioNord and BioSüd

Berlin‘s Denkwerk Zukunft Invites to Annual Conference

SEKEM Sonnenfrucht Spreads are Back

SEKEM will exhibit within the common Demeter area on the two most important organic trade fairs of this autumn, BioSüd (Augsburg) and BioNord (Hanover) in Germany. The Demeter area will offer plenty of opportunities to visitors to familiarize themselves with the wealth of Demeter-certified products on the market. As winners of this year’s competition for “Demeter-Product of the Year”, the dairy Monte Ziego will also exhibit as well as the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG and a number of Demeter beekeepers. SEKEM, too, will present new products (also see news on right).

There are many indications that economic growth and material prosperity will stagnate or even decline in the early industrialized countries in the future. How will this affect the money and banking sector? May interest rates then have a positive effect? How will we ensure capital formation, investment and innovation under these circumstances? And how will social perspectives change under conditions of economic stagnation?

SEKEM and the team of SEKEM Europe GmbH are pleased to announce the popular “Sonnenfrucht” spreads will be available again in stores beginning mid-September. The products will be presented to the professional public at trade shows BioNord and BioSüd in Hanover and Augsburg before.

For Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, the two major trade fairs are the ideal opportunity to fully explain to dealers directly the benefits of biodynamic cultivation and why Demeter-certified seed varieties are the best alternative to industrially produced seeds. Monte Ziego, winners of this year’s “DemeterProduct of the Year” competition, will use both events to present its goat cheese in olive oil and herbs and its latest innovation, the new „Black Forest Cherry Cheese“ . Other Demeter partners will be grouped around the Demeter presentation area, often with strong regional links. Demeter will present itself as a biodynamic brand community at both exhibitions. This allows trade partners to personally experience the full spectrum of biodynamic quality. Demeter e.V. is convinced that this is exactly the proper way to differentiate retailers on the competitive organic market. Source: Demeter e.V.

Like-minded individuals in Germany may debate these questions and related issues at this year’s conference of the Denkwerk Zukunft - Foundation for Cultural Renewal, a Berlin-based think-tank. The event is named „Life Without Interest and Growth - A View of a New Era“ and will take place on Saturday, 1. December 2012 in Berlin. As the foundation, SEKEM has long been committed to encourage a rethinking of our current developmental paradigm and develop approaches for a new, sustainable economy. The conference is open to any interested individual. The conference venue is the Church of Resurrection at the Environmental Forum in Berlin. An application is available on the Internet. Like last year, the conference will take place in conjunction with a pro-bono concert by the Berlin Staatskapelle directed by Enoch zu Guttenberg in aid of the Foundation NaturTon. Joseph Haydn‘s „The Four Seasons“ will be performed on 1 December 2012 at 8.30pm in the Memorial Church of Berlin. The organisers have acquired a number of free tickets for participants. The entry to both events - conference and concert - is free of charge. Concert tickets will be handed out at the conference. Source: Denkwerk Zukunft


The first production run, which is now carried out by SEKEM’s German manufacturing partners Petersilchen GmbH, has just been completed and the SEKEM Europe team is excited about the results. Plus, the highly popular fruit spreads with an oriental taste will also be available in additional varieties bringing the total number of varieties available to 8: bitter orange, fig, fig and pomegranate (new), fig mango (new), pomegranate, guava, lime (new) and mango. Visitors may catch an early glimpse on the new products at the two upcoming organic fairs at SEKEM’s boot in the Demeter area at the stands No. 4-J09a (BioNord in Hanover) and stand No. 5-A25 (BioSüd in Augsburg). Source: SEKEM Europe


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Masthead: The editors of SEKEM Insight wish to thank all contributors to this issue. Editor: Bijan Kafi Contact: SEKEM-Insight c/o SEKEM Holding P.O.Box 2834, El Horreya, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt Pictures: Pages 1,2,3,4: SEKEM; 5: SEKEM Verein Schweiz No republication without written consent by the publisher.

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SEKEM Insight | September 2012 | Page 6

SEKEM Insight 09.12 EN  

SEKEM's monthly journal on economy, society, culture, and ecology in Egypt.